OCEANSIDE — A man who fired a BB gun at an Oceanside business that had put up a sign supporting the Black Lives Matter movement was sentenced today to three years of probation, the terms of which include one year in county jail.
Steve Soto, 23, of Carlsbad, pleaded guilty last month to charges of violating civil rights by damaging property — a misdemeanor hate crime count — and felony vandalism stemming from the June 4 shooting that shattered a window at Bliss Tea & Treats.
Terms of his probation include no contact with the business owner and staying at least 100 yards away from her home and place of employment.
Oceanside police Sgt. John McKean said Soto drove by the business, then fired a BB gun out the window of his vehicle. The business at 301 Mission Ave. had a sign in the window at the time that read: “Black owned, we stand with you.”
The sergeant said surveillance video helped detectives identify the vehicle used in the crime, leading to Soto’s arrest on July 15.
Following the sentence, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan issued a statement that read: “We want the public to know that we will fight hate in all its forms. Hate crimes impact the entire community and erode our right to equality and fairness.”
An online reporting form and hotline are available for members of the public to report suspected hate crimes at www.sdcda.org/helping/hate-crimes.html or 619-515-8805.
“We know that people often don’t report hate crimes because of fear or shame, and we wanted to provide a direct avenue to encourage victims or witnesses to hate crimes to report,” Stephan said. “People can and should continue to report hate crimes to their local police departments and Sheriff’s Department. This additional reporting mechanism will act as a safety net and help ensure reports are reviewed and shared by law enforcement.”